Coursera, the web-based learning hub that is schooling us all, recently announced a partnership with twenty-nine new universities, including the likes of Penn State University, Rutgers, and the California Institute of the Arts. Many more have also been added in Latin America, Europe, and Asia.
All told, the new partnerships have resulted in ninety-two new course offerings in five languages, "nearly doubling the amount of schools offering courses on our platform."
Coursera is certainly on a roll, claiming an existing user base of 2.7 million students, and has been named by Fast Company as one of one of the world's 50 most innovative companies.
Of course, no one knows what the future of higher education holds, but few will argue that Coursera is leading the charge. In select cases, students can even receive college credit for courses taken on Coursera. The American Council on Education’s College Credit Recommendation Service (ACE CREDIT) recently recommended five Coursera courses for college credit. These are, technically, only recommendations, so your mileage may vary, but it's certainly a huge step in the right direction.
There is another way, though, to earn real college credit on the cheap via Coursera by paying a small fee to take an exam after you've finished the course. Pass the exam, get the credit.
Having enrolled in a few of the courses myself, I can't recommend the experience highly enough. Online courses — or MOOCS (Massive Open Courses), as they're commonly called — come with certain drawbacks, such as the enormous student-to-teacher ratio, but also have distinct advantages. First and foremost is the pricetag: the courses are free of charge (at least on Coursera). The discussion forums are also a plus: some great discussions can be had after the lecture.
MOOCS will only continue to evolve. This technology is still in its infancy, but even so, the value, even now, is undeniable.
You can read more about the university and course additions on Coursera's blog. As a bonus, check out the nifty visualization some students put together displaying Coursera's massive global user base.
(thumbnail image via StockFreeImages)